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    Elder Abuse (July 2014)

    The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is taking a systemic approach to one of the fastest growing crimes in the county. Until recently, elder abuse has been slow to gain attention, causing elder abuse to be under-reported and under-investigated. Recognizing that over 20% of Jefferson County's population is over 60-years of age (and projected to be 27% by 2020), the Sheriff's Office began partnering with the Jefferson County's District Attorney's Office to address the growing trend. The DA's office created an Elder Abuse Prosecution Unit, the only one of its kind in the state of Colorado, which is leading the charge in elder abuse prosecution.

    The elder abuse cause is also gaining momentum thanks to new legislation, effective July 1, 2014, making it mandatory to report elder abuse. The law (C.R.S. 18-6.5-108) stipulates that medical professionals, social workers, care facilities, guardians, financial institutions and emergency services providers shall report abuse or exploitation to law enforcement within 24 hours. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office recognizes the time sensitivity of these cases and considers elder abuse cases a high priority. The DA's Office subsequently assigns an investigator to review the report. The new law will allow Jeffco to better identify and prevent elder abuse, prosecute offenders, and assist elder abuse victims. The legislature also recognizes the need for swift action in investigating and prosecuting these cases.

    What is Elder Abuse?

    Elder abuse can be any type of crime perpetrated against an at-risk adult*. This can include physical abuse, financial exploitation, caretaker neglect, neglect and sexual abuse.

    Warning signs of elder abuse

    The Sheriff believes that law enforcement, prosecutors and the community can do a better job in protecting the elderly against crimes and abuse, but we need your help. Do you recognize any of the below warning signs?

    Physical Abuse: unexplained bruising, scratches, burns, broken bones or other injuries.

    Neglect: changes in personal grooming, weight loss, unkempt appearance, unsanitary living conditions, dirty and un-bathed.

    Caretaker Neglect: when adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care, or supervision is not secured for an at-risk adult in a timely manner.

    Exploitation: large withdrawals from, or depletion of bank accounts, changes in designation of beneficiaries to wills or other financial documents, actions exceeding the scope of a power of attorney, new friends or relatives appearing in the elder's life, unnecessary purchases or expenditures.

    Sexual Abuse: bruising around genitalia, venereal disease or unexplained infections, torn, stained or bloody clothing.

    Emotional Abuse: overbearing or threatening caregiver, changes in mood or behavior.

    How to Report

    Individuals identified as mandatory reporters who fail to report elder abuse could face a class 3 misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 6 months jail and/or $750 fine. To report elder abuse occurring in Jefferson County please call: 303-277-0211. As always, in case of an emergency please dial 911.

    *At-risk adult includes anyone 60-years or older for crimes committed before 5/16/13, and 70 years or older after 5/16/13.

    Amber Luttrell
    Community Relations Manager

    July 20, 2014

    Last Updated: 4-7-2016